Oceano Dunes off-road vehicle enthusiasts file quiet title lawsuit

May 17, 2021

By KAREN VELIE

In an attempt to have portions of the Oceano Dunes dedicated for off-highway vehicle use, Friends of the Oceano Dunes filed a quiet title lawsuit on May 11 against multiple state and local government agencies.

According to the lawsuit, because off-road vehicle enthusiasts have recreated on the dunes for more than five years, without asking or receiving permission and without objection, they have the right to continue driving and camping on the dunes. People began driving on the dunes decades before three defendants named in the lawsuit — California State Parks, the County of San Luis Obispo and the California Department of General Services — purchased the property.

“Under state law, once an implied dedication is established against a private property owner, it can never be retracted,”according to the lawsuit. “A public trust is created when property is held by a public entity for the benefit of the general public. Thus, the implied dedication is thereafter held in trust for public use for the dedicated purposes, which here includes OHV recreation, beach driving and camping.”

In March, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to phase out off-road vehicle usage at the Oceano Dunes over the next three years and to ban nighttime vehicle riding at the Oceano Dunes.

Friends’ latest lawsuit also alleges the Coastal Commission “abused its discretion” when it voted to stop off-road vehicle usage on land with an “implied dedication.”

In addition, the suit names the SLO County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) as a defendant because it exceeded its authority by requiring dust control measures that shuttered portions of the dunes to vehicles.

More than a decade ago, the APCD first claimed it had tied off-road vehicle traffic at the Oceano Dunes State Recreational Area to higher levels of dust on the Nipomo Mesa, including a claim that the dust contained dangerous levels of toxic crystalline silica.

After 10 years of warning Nipomo residents of the dangers of silica dust, the APCD decided to run tests for silica in the air. The testing refuted the APCD’s earlier claims; concluding the dust blowing from the dunes did not contain dangerous levels of crystalline silica.

Because of the APCD-derived false concerns that silica from the dunes was harming the health of people living on the Mesa, Coastal Commission staff first showed interest in shuttering the off-road vehicle park.

In two lawsuits filed earlier this year, friends accuses the Coastal Commission of violating laws and exceeding its authority when it voted to stop off-road vehicle recreation at the dunes.

Friends of the Oceano Dunes is a nonprofit that represents approximately 28,000 supporters of off-road recreation. The organization has successfully sued state and local government agencies, including the Coastal Commission, over past regulatory actions related to the Oceano Dunes State Recreational Area.


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Chill

Why are the Board of Directors (except for one in Nipomo) ALL out of town folks? As listed on their web page?


Chill

More cry-baby soup from the Sand-Jerks.


sardonicsentiment

Consider all the sand and dust from the nearby agriculture. Are they “sand-jerks” too? How about the construction going on in neighboring towns? “Sand-jerks” as well? Idk why people love to single out ohv use as being more detrimental to their lives than seemingly anything else. How about the oil refinery pumping out stank fumes 24/7? Not concerned about that? Hypocrite. Just don’t like seeing people enjoy something in a different way than you huh? Sad.


kevin rise

The only thing that should be enjoyed on a beach is walking says this Marxist loving Socialist. Protect the Plover!


Jorge Estrada

I am no lawyer but IF my memory serves me well, a quiet title claim (often known as a squatters right claim) has no bearing when filed against a government agency. Private vs party or government vs private party is a yes but a private party vs government is a no. Example: “We have always tossed our litter out the window of our car” or “we have always dumped our waste water into the creek”, etc, that will go nowhere. That said, I do support the recreational vehicles on the entirety of the dunes, the last existing option to provide something for everyone on the California coast. The wind blown sands have always been, just dig a hole miles inland and guess where that sand came from. The new housing issues in the path of sand dust was a failure to the required EIR’s, a different liability, not the pre-dated recreational use of the dunes. I see this quiet title action as a legal boondoggle for personal gain.


kayaknut

Not sure your analogy works here. I would think you would have to have proof you tossed litter out the window or dumped your waste long before the law prohibiting it was passed, not just your word, where as there is solid proof the dunes were used by recreational vehicles long before any restrictions were put in place.


Kevin Rice

Jorge, your memory is errant. Quiet title is often used against government. Your analogy is also flawed. The matter is one of possession, not dumping. I don’t see your view of “personal gain” either. There is no personal gain here. This is a government seizure being opposed.


Jorge Estrada

I’m open for a sound understanding of what is reasonable. The new people have always complained about pre-existing conditions as in an airport approach over their new home, then there is the fact that public lands have discontinued the use of off-road vehicles. It could be that once the public accepts a permissive relationship, permission can be discontinued, not seized.